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The RKH Ahlers family of South Africa

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Robert Karl Heinrich Ahlers and Sophie Marie Regine Wurth are the progenitors of this small family in South Africa. In December 2013 the Ahlers-family had been in South Africa for 100 years.

This project aims to collect information about the Ahlers(-Schlüter) ancestors (in Germany) and all the descendants and related family in South Africa. It also aims to "keep the family together" by providing visibility of the different branches of the family, and by providing interesting information related to the progenitors Robert Ahlers and Sophie Wurth. (See the related project for the Wurth family in South Africa.)

  • Note: All the blue sections / words represent click-able links to more information about the individual, location or topic.

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Descendants

Robert and Sophie Ahlers had four children:

  1. Hein (1926-2014) married Trieks Venter (1930-2012),
  2. Irmi (1928-2012) married Werner Aab (1927-2012),
  3. Theo/Manni (1931-2013) married Olga Schlotfeldt (1932-2013) and
  4. Horst (1934-2004) married Yvonne Wallis (1936-2013).

The 13 second generation descendants (cousins) are:

  1. Johann (1956), Carl (1959) and Erich (1959) Ahlers.
  2. Fritz Aab (1950), Hanneliese Lemmerer (1952), Heidrun Koelble (1957) and Gerhard Aab (1961).
  3. Karen Zwinscher (1956), Brigitte Koch (1958) and Ingrid Kloppers (1964).
  4. Hein (1962), Eugene (1964) Ahlers and Nadia Nel (1970).

The 27 third generation descendants (second cousins) are:

  1. Joekie (1987), Rianné (1990), Richert (1989), Evert (1990), Cenette (1985), Petri (1986), Liesl (1991) Ahlers.
  2. Kim Allen (1976), Sandra Eglau (1980), Vanessa Aab (1983), Nina Axt (1977), Una Vermeulen (1980), Oskar Brown (1985), Felix Koelble (1998), Sven (1991), Alexa (2010) Aab.
  3. Kirsten Zwinscher (1992), Claudia (1986), Martin (1986), Ellen (1986), Stefanie (1989) Koch, Alexander (1993), Danica (1996) Kloppers
  4. Tamsin (2005), Jarrod (2006) Ahlers, Kelsey, Torin Nel

And the number of fourth generation descendants are growing (11 by September 2014):

  1. -
  2. Michaela, Jason, Matthew and Kate Allen, Ferdinand Eglau, Bruno Aab, Bianca and Sascha Axt, Sebastian, Oliver and Sophia Vermeulen
  3. -
  4. -

- - please help us to keep this up to date: add yourself as a collaborator and feel free to modify it yourself, or email Johann at johann.ahlers@gmail.com - -

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Robert Ahlers - his parents and teenage years

Robert Ahlers was born in Hamburg on 18 December 1896. (See Robert's timeline.) His father, Heinrich Ahlers, who was born in Hagenow east of Hamburg, was a coal merchant that supplied to the new generation of coal-fired ships as well as the households in the vicinity. His mother was Helene Ahlers (born Schlüter) - she was born and raised at Kamerlander Deich north-west of Hamburg, where her father was the guard of the Elmshorn railroad crossing. Robert had one younger brother, Walter Johannes Ahlers, who was born in 1900, and who remained in Hamburg for the rest of his life. Walter had only one daughter (Margrit) and she had only one son, Gerald Busch, and he still lives in Hamburg in 2014.

Robert was christened and confirmed in the evangelische St Thomas church on the Vierländer Damm in Rothenburgsort, Hamburg. (The green arrow on the Google map points to the church tower - the only part of the original church that survived the terrible bombing of the Hamburg harbour in 1943.)

This paragraph is in the process of being rewritten based on new information: We understand that the Ahlers family lived in Billhorner-Brückenstrasse. Robert and Walter went to the Billhorner-Röhrendamm Schule. They lived above their "coal shop" somewhere in Peutestrasse, Veddel, Hamburg. (Robert's parents continued to live here up to World War II. After the war, they lived in an apartment in Milchstrasse, Hamburg. This is nowadays a very upmarket area of Hamburg.)

After completing Hochschule (about the equivalent of Grade 8 in South Africa, and quite significant schooling at the time), Robert got 'wanderlust' and wanted to see the world. One can only imagine that he must have been heavily influenced by the 5 million Germans that emigrated via Ballinstadt (between 1850 and 1934), barely 1km south west from where they lived in Peutestrasse. As a young boy, he worked his way around the world as a ship crew member. He was young, energetic, and because he was well schooled, he was an asset to most any crew. He visited New York and Sydney, amongst others.

On what was to be his last major voyage, Robert Ahlers left Hamburg on 13 Dec 1912 (5 days before his 16th birthday), and arrived in Cape Town in December 1913 aboard the Norwegian barque 'Songelo'. Together with a friend, he disembarked and worked on the fishing trawlers of Irvin & Johnson to save some money to "travel through Africa". During this time he stayed at 38 Essex Street, Woodstock, Cape Town.

With the outbreak of World War I on 28 July 1914, Robert was only 17 and, on 14 September 1914, he was captured in Cape Town and detained with most other German nationals at Fort Napier in Pietermaritzburg, after passing shortly through Robert's Heights (now Thaba Tshwane, previously Voortrekkerhoogte) near Pretoria. It was a long and boring five years. More can be seen about his stay at the Fort Napier project and on the chronology in his own profile. The detainees were continually unhappy about their living conditions. After an ineffective, protracted complaints process which included a visit by General Louis Botha (Prime Minister at the time), the detainees felt that something had to be done. Over the weekend 16-18 August 1917, Robert (20yrs old at the time) was one of eleven active role players who protested by setting fire to parts of the Fort Napier camp. Following a trial he was found guilty of arson and sentenced to 18 months hard labour in the Central Prison (old Potgieter street), Pretoria. (The exact charge was: "Incendiarism: (1) destroyed recreation room, (2) destroyed barracks 5, 6, 7 and 8.") He served exactly 8 months of this prison sentence (from 5 Oct 1917 to 5 June 1918) and was returned to Fort Napier to continue his detention ("re-internment").

World War I ended on 11 November 1918, but Robert was only released from detention on 11 August 1919 - exactly 9 months later. Was this the remainder of his prison sentence? Or was it the normal length of the administrative process after the end of the war? Robert opted to stay in South Africa and not to be sent back (repatriated) to Germany. (Sadly, he was never to see his mother and father again, and only saw his brother after 50 years when he visited Hamburg in 1963. Robert's father passed away while they were en route by ship to Hamburg for this visit. Some of Robert's children - Manni in particular - believed that Robert's father did not want to see him again and that his death may not have been unintentional, although he was 89 years of age at the time...)

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Robert Ahlers married Sophie Bellstedt (born Wurth)

Robert Ahlers married the young widow Sophie Bellstedt (born Wurth) in 1925. (See her timeline.) She was the daughter of a Hermannsburg missionary, Heinrich Wurth, and she was born in South Africa. (She had been married to Johann Wilhelm Bellstedt since 1912, but he was also detained at Fort Napier in 1914. He was, however, not a healthy man, and was eventually released on humanitarian grounds from Fort Napier in 1916. He sadly passed away at the Zuid-Afrikaansche Hospitaal in Pretoria on 28 September 1919 at the age of 33 and was buried on Vastfontein. Johann Bellstedt's death occurred barely six weeks after Robert was released from Fort Napier.)

The Wurth parents and their married Bellstedt and Von Schlichting daughters (as well as the Ahlers family after 1925) all stayed on the farm Vastfontein north of Pretoria.

They lived at Grasmere, Kemptonpark, Edenvale, Melville, Westcliff. (Opa - later - also stayed at Sondela Nature Reserve and finally at the Deutsches Altersheim, Richmond, Johannesburg)

- still to complete the different locations they lived -

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Ahlers ancestors in Mecklenburg-Schwerin

During the 1800s, the Ahlers ancestors mostly lived in Mecklenburgh-Schwerin, about 50km towards the east of Hamburg. (Click on location links below to see in Google Maps.)

1. Heinrich EW Ahlers (Opa's father)

  • Born 17 Sep 1874 and christened 12 Oct 1874, Hagenow, Mecklenburg-Strelitz
  • Married 29 Dec 1894
  • Died 1960s, Hamburg
  • Er kam von einem Bauernhof der familie Ahlers in Hagenow, Mecklenburgh-Vorpommern. Ging wegen Schwierigkeiten mit dem Stiefvater nach Hamburg, arbeitete als Schauermann (Hafen arbeiter) im Hafen, später machte er sich mit einem Kohlenhandel selbstständig.

2. Ernst WH Ahlers (father of #1)

  • Born 30 Dec 1841, Kirch Jesar, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern
  • Married 25 Feb 1870, Hagenow. At this stage he was a carpenter ('Zimmergesell') in Hagenow.

3. Caroline ME Schroeder / sometimes Sass (mother of #1)

4. Ernst JL Ahlers (father of #2)

5. Marie JE Drahn (mother of #2)

6. Heinrich FAC Schroeder (father of #3)

  • Born 29 Aug 1817, Rostock, Meckelnburg-Schwerin
  • Married 1 Aug 1849, Hagenow

7. Anna ME Sass (mother of #3)

- to be completed -

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Schlüter ancestors in Schleswig-Holstein

We have three research reports available among the attached documents. For the first one click here.

During the latter half of the 1800s, the Schlüter family lived at the railway crossing of the Kamerlander Deich, 40km north west of Hamburg.

The Schlüter ancestors come from Depenau, Stolpe, Bornhöved and Plön (all part of Denmark at times!), about 70km due north of Hamburg, while the Carstens ancestors lived in Niendorf and Eidelstedt about 10km from the Hamburg city centre.

1. Helene M Schlüter (Opa's mother)

  • Born 4 Jan 1871, Kamerlander Deich, Bad Steinburg, Schleswig-Holstein
  • Christened 31 Mar 1871, Süderau, Holstein
  • Married 29 Dec 1894
  • Died 1960s, Hamburg
  • Heinrich Ahlers und Margarethe lernten sich kennen als Margarethes erster Verlobter bei der Cholera-epidemie in Hamburg gestorben war. Margarethe kam aus Michaelisdom, Ditmarschen, Schleswig-Holstein. Ihre Eltern waren Schrankwärter bei dem Eisenbahnkreuzungen.

2. Joachim F Schlüter (father of #1)

  • Born 12 Jul 1829, Depenau, Stolpe, Schleswig-Holstein
  • Married 26 Jul 1857, Niendorf, Eidelstedt
  • Died 7 Apr 1875, Süderau, Holstein

3. Anna M Carstens (mother of #1)

  • Born 2 Sep 1828, Eidelstedt, Kreis Pinneberg, Schleswig-Holstein
  • Married 26 Jul 1857, Niendorf, Eidelstedt
  • Died after Apr 1875, Eidelstedt, Kreis Pinneberg, Schleswig-Holstein

- to be completed -